The Mass Effect trilogies are some of my favorite video games of the previous console generation. I’m a sucker for rich characters and deep world-building, and this is where the Mass Effect series really shined. The universe you occupied in these games felt real and lived-in. Each alien species had a rich history and their own relationships with humans. When I played Mass Effect games, I could imagine myself inhabiting this world.
And now we have the new release, Mass Effect Andromeda. This game takes place some 600 years after the original series, with a ship of 20,000 colonists looking to make a new home in the Andromeda galaxy. You play an explorer named Ryder, and act as Pathfinder as you help the colonists find worlds to settle. However, Andromeda isn’t quite as hospitable as it seemed at first. Between skirmishes with hostile aliens, the crew also encounters The Scourge, a cloud of dark matter ravaging previously habitable worlds and making settlement less viable.
But this desolation isn’t just thematic - this game feels a lot emptier than the previous games in the series. Rather than the dozen or so intelligent species from our home galaxy, here in Andromeda, we have two that are new to this game - one that is strictly hostile. A few of the Milky Way races return as well, but not enough to make the game feel as diverse as the first trilogy. The story isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either. It just kind of... is.
Gameplay, however, is tighter than it ever has been in the series. Combat is third-person, and features more streamlined controls. It is much less stiff than it had been in previous games, and I rarely feel like the controls get in the way of how I want to make my character move.
The game, of course, sets up for sequels (probably another trilogy), and I can feel the story ramping up to something that might be greater. For now, though, this branch of the story is something I never thought I’d call a Mass Effect game - kind of boring.